Ben Duronio nailed this one, at least in my opinion. With GM’s giving closers blank checks and telling them to write down whatever they think is fair this off season, Jonny Venters value is at it’s peek. Venters is coming off two of the best seasons of his career and he is arguably the best left-handed reliever in the game. He definitely was last year. Now is without a doubt the best time to trade him especially once you learn the amount of innings he has been put under the past three years:
2009- 156 (starter)
Duronio shows where Venters ranked across the league in innings and appearances:
His 171 innings over two seasons ranks second in the Majors behind Tyler Clippard for relief pitchers, and he is one of only five relievers to throw over 150 innings since 2010. In terms of appearances for relievers, Venters is the league leader over the past two years with 164. He has piled up the innings and appearances, and as most of us know the nickname “Every Day Jonny” has certainly been fitting. Lots of appearances does not necessarily mean Venters will suffer a catastrophic injury, but it raises the odds of one occurring, at least somewhat.
Ben also points out that Venters has already had Tommy John surgery (at the age of 26) and with the amount of innings he is pitching he could need another one before long.
Moving away from his workload we can see a few things in his performance that suggest now is a great time to deal.
In all honesty, this stuff is just nit picking. There is no reason to think that he is going to just drop off next season as a lot of his other stats improved from 2010 to 2011 including WHIP, K%, AVG, and GB%. Venters will still be one of the best relievers next year. The point is, he might not be as good.
The Braves have the best pitching depth in the majors and they should utilize that by selling high on Jonny Venters. There are only 5 slots in the starting rotation. Let’s just say that they are filled by Hudson, Beachy, Hanson, Minor, and Teheran. So Randall Delgado, Arodys Vizcaino, Kris Medlen, Eric O’Flaherty, and Craig Kimbrel are still available to make a dominant bullpen.
If Jair Jurrjens isn’t traded than you have another effective pitcher to move around. I would also like to remind you all of Stephen Marek, who will be another great bullpen arm once he comes back at some point in 2012.
The Braves have the depth and should take advantage of it this off season. Plenty of teams are going to be looking for closers, and bullpen help and Venters is one of the best options to do that. If the Braves could get a nice outfield prospect or a couple decent hitting prospects to put in the system it would be worth moving him now. Bullpen pitchers are the easiest to come by and so far the only GM who realizes this is Billy Beane. Maybe Frank Wren can be the next.
Carlos is a Co-Editor for ATL All Day, the one the one-stop fix covering the Atlanta sports scene on the FanSided network. His love for the Braves has turned into an admiration for the Falcons and Hawks as well, but Georgia Tech and Georgia will always fall behind UNC, where he is currently enrolled. He attempts to write with a balance of statistical analysis and good ol' common sense. You can follow him on Twitter @CarlosCollazo__